Archive for August, 2005

Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion. By Crosby Gaige. M. Barrows and Co. (1941).

The most treasured tome on my shelf, this harmonious blend of humor and how-to led me to my present vocation. (I remain unsure whether to thank or blame the esteemed Mr. Gaige for that.) His chapters mix recipes, lore, and opinion, providing would-be men-about-town instruction in matters so diverse as “How to Mix in and For Polite Society” and “Companionate Marriage.” Rea Irvin’s drawings are a delight, and though Gaige’s superb writing provides the hearty main course, written contributions from two immortals — Lucius Beebe and Lawton Mackall — make a perfect aperitif and digestif, respectively. Indeed, it is Gaige’s description of the duties of Mackall that I coopted when I wrote my own want ad and hired myself:

This gentleman of infinite capacity is perhaps the last of the authentic boulevardiers. He holds the high office of official liquor sipper for the readers of Esquire. His days and nights are spent in Manhattan’s more opulent madhouses sipping, forever sipping, anything and everything of an alcoholic nature that flows from flagons, flasks or bottles. He reports his findings in mellifluously modulated scholarly prose. Fortunately, he is equipped with a complete set of innards, from stem to stern as it were, made to his own personal specifications by the Revere Copper and Brass Works at Rome, New York. Thus he has none of the limitations that nature has bestowed upon other and lesser savants of the saloon.

Daily he completes his rounds and as dawn waves its crimson wand above the roof of the Agash Refining Company in Mr. Bush’s Terminal, he pads swiftly to South Ferry where the municipal Charon oars him to his vine-clad bower in Staten Island. If he were touched by a careless or casual match he would burn with a clear blue flame.

Gaige’s exquisite vocabulary may prick careless readers to bleed; never tackle this one tipsy.

Blundell on Florida

Friday, August 12th, 2005

“Potentially alcoholic men who maintained self-control all their lives because their work structures demanded it, men whose behavior was tempered by their responsibilities, come to Florida in retirement and fall apart.”
— William E. Blundell, “My Florida”

Lait and Mortimer on Scotch

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

“Chicagoans are heavy drinkers and like their liquor authoritative. Only since the war, when it got hard to get, have any wanted Scotch. In the old days Scotch was only for Englishmen and fairies.”
— Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer, Chicago Confidential

Gulping One’s Drinks

Monday, August 8th, 2005

Do you have any advice for someone (me) who tends to drink their drinks too fast? I can’t help it — I’m a gulper. (Advice about how to SLOW DOWN, that is. I don’t want to deal with any underlying issues.) — Kirstin

An excellent question, young lady, and one that has plagued sober-minded drinks enthusiasts since the invention of the cork. When one finds oneself the beneficiary of well-blended cocktails and companionship both, it’s only human to overdo things a bit. Being perhaps more human than some, I share your affliction.

I have two strategies to suggest. First, you might try watering your drinks down a bit — not literally, of course. It’s a sin (and ought to be a punishable offense) to add more than a dewdrop to any good whisky. But the highball was invented for just this purpose. If you tend to drink three martinis during a single conversational detour, try instead a gin and tonic with plenty of the latter, served in a very tall chimney glass. A gin and tonic is no martini, needless to say, but a tall drink with a large proportion of nonflammable mixer is a surefire way to avoid getting unintentionally tipsy. (I’ll say more on the highball in a forthcoming essay.)

Or — and this should be your last resort — order your third- or fourth-favorite drink, rather than your first. I would never suggest you order a drink you don’t enjoy, but if you find yourself guzzling White Russians as if they were good old cow’s milk, you might find yourself less likely to overdo with a tart Bacardi Cocktail. Also, thick or heavily spiced drinks, such as the Bloody Mary (which is both), don’t lend themselves well to what the youth call “chugging.”

I hope I’ve been of assistance. If not, write me again and I shall put more resources on your case.